A Queens jury awarded plaintiff Humberto Pizarro a $1.5 million verdict medical malpractice against two doctors, Dr. Mendelsohn, a gastroenterologist, and Dr. Katz, a laparoscopic surgeon. The jury found Dr. Mendelsohn to be 60 percent responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and Dr. Katz 40 percent responsible.
The patient went to Dr. Mendelsohn for a routine colonoscopy screening. Prior to the procedure he had no symptoms or complaints. The colonoscopy, which was recommended for adults aged over 50, was performed on Pizarro in order to detect any cancer or pre-cancerous polyps. Dr. Mendelsohn claims that during the colonoscopy he saw some blood vessels bleeding and cauterized them using a “heater probe.”
Pizarro felt burning pain in his abdomen after the procedure was finished. He was nevertheless sent come under the belief that the pain would subside. The patient returned the next morning complaining that severe pain still there. Dr. Mendelsohn diagnosed that the pain was probably caused by a perforation of the cecum and referred Pizarro to Dr. Katz.
A laparoscopic procedure was performed by Dr. Katz where three holes in the colon where identified and repaired. These holes were caused by the heater probe used by Dr. Mendelsohn to cauterize the blood vessels. The patient was discharged from the hospital several days later.
A day and a half later Pizarro returned to the hospital once again complaining of severe abdominal pain. During additional surgery, a perforation of his small intestines was discovered in an area different from the previous heater probe injuries.
The gastroenterology expert for the plaintiff testified that the use of the heater probe during Pizarro’s colonoscopy should not have been performed given the excessive risk. The jury seemed to agree with this testimony, especially since the patient did not have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding. The jury found that both doctors departed from the accepted standards of care. Dr. Mendelsohn’s cauterization of the blood vessels with the heater probe was found to be unnecessary and risky. Dr. Katz, during his laparoscopic surgery, failed to properly inspect the patient’s small intestines. This was also a departure of the accepted standards of care that caused Pizarro additional problems and the need to have more surgeries.
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